When I wrote about Game 1 of the Miami Heat-Milwaukee Bucks series, I made a note that the Bucks shot horrifically from three-point range. If Miami’s stars playing like crap was why the Heat didn’t roll in the first game, then Milwaukee’s failures from deep is why they didn’t knock out a blowout win. Fast-forward to Game 2, and I now have a point of evidence to support the latter part of that theory.
The Bucks came out on Monday night to prove that their awful shooting was just a fluke, and Miami never really recovered from a record-breaking Milwaukee barrage in the first quarter, dropping Game 2 by the woeful score of 132-98. It honestly didn’t even feel that close:
No team in the NBA can properly come back from dropping the first quarter by a score of 46-20, and it’s not like Milwaukee let off after that massive first in which they tied the NBA playoff record for most three-pointers in a quarter (10, tied with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016). Any time Miami looked like it might try to mount some form of comeback to make Game 2 a decent contest, Milwaukee would hit one or two or three big shots in a row and quash those dreams with a quickness. When Pat Connaughton is going 5-of-9 from deep, it’s just not an opponent’s night, though the Heat made it particularly easy for Milwaukee.
Miami’s famously aggressive “switch everything” strategy on defense bit them in the ass on Monday, as the Bucks kept going away from a double-teamed Giannis Antetokounmpo in order to find the recently freed up shooters behind the arc. The main beneficiary of all that open space was Bryn Forbes, the fifth-year guard who signed with Milwaukee in November. In 20 minutes, Forbes went off for 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including 6-of-9 from three. Miami had no answer for him, somehow, and even when he had a defender draped on him, the shots kept falling.
By the end of the night, the Bucks’ shooting percentages weren’t particularly ground-breaking: A 41.5 percent night from deep is wonderful but nothing to write home about. The problem for Miami was that the shots stopped falling after Milwaukee went up by 20-plus, and the Heat’s morale was appropriately crushed. Despite the back-and-forth nature of Game 1, this beating might be more indicative of what remains to be seen in this series.
For one, Milwaukee was a decent, if not excellent, three-point shooting team in the regular season. They won’t be this hot to start every game, but it’s perfectly reasonable to believe that they will be consistent enough to make Miami nervous. Perhaps more importantly, the Bucks appear to have figured out how to defend both Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, so as long as the shots fall at a better rate than in the first game, it will take some magic from Miami to avoid a quick ride to the offseason. The Heat will regret that Game 1 didn’t fall their way, but given Milwaukee’s nuclear output on Monday, that might have just been enough to secure the gentleman’s sweep. Barring some major adjustments in both gameplan and performance, the Bucks have enough firepower to burn down the Heat.